Plymouth 1-0 Leicester: 3 Foxes Talking Points

The Foxes headed for the South West coast on Friday night for a vital Championship fixture against Plymouth Argyle. A hugely disappointing, albeit familiar, 1-0 defeat means that the play-offs is now more likely for Leicester than automatic promotion. Here, we look at what has gone wrong.
Another defeat for the Foxes
Another defeat for the Foxes / Harry Trump/GettyImages

All too familiar

Since the Watford game on March 9th, the Foxes have drawn one and lost three away matches, and all three defeats have been very similar. The team has dominated possession with a huge number of passes, many of them sideways. There has been little penetration (in the last two away defeats at any rate) against very average, if not poor, teams who are content to defend in depth. If a chance has arrived, either Jamie Vardy or the hapless Patson Daka have been unable to convert. In all three games, a rare attack from Leicester’s opponents results in a goal. Game over.  

 What is to be done?

It may be too late now to rescue automatic promotion. Although ascension would still be guaranteed if LCFC win all four remaining matches but, at the moment, it would be a brave man who bet on that outcome. Leicester’s performances are going to have to improve - if only for the play-off games that might now be necessary. 

 Gone are the days when local football journalists had close ties with the clubs they wrote about, Bill Anderson having a pint with Frank Worthington kind of thing. In a piece in Friday’s Leicester Mercury, though, the current custodian, Jordan Blackwell, suggested four ways in which the Foxes can maximise their chances of achieving a quick return to the Premier League. Perhaps Enzo Maresca ought to take note.

 The first of these is the speed of transition. On those rare occasions when Leicester’s opponents do leave themselves vulnerable at the back, a quick counter-attack might be productive, as it was earlier in the season. To be fair to the Foxes, on Friday night they did attempt to get the ball forward quickly at times but the passes were woeful, either being easily intercepted or going out of play.

At least Maresca did abandon the experiment of playing Wilfred Ndidi on the left and Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall on the right of midfield. It didn’t work against Millwall. However, Ndidi had a poor game on Friday night and was substituted in the second half.

The third suggestion is to make more use of squad rotation. The notion that Leicester supposedly have the strongest squad in the Championship seems to have escaped Maresca’s attention. Given that the form of Wout Faes is patchy, there is a strong case for playing Conor Coady. Likewise, although Daka works hard for the team, his confidence is clearly shot. Why, then, do neither Tom Cannon or Kelechi Iheanacho get a game now?

Finally, there is surely a case for trying something different when the team is trailing going into the second half of games. Maresca did opt for two strikers in the last few minutes of the Millwall game and it almost rescued a point. There was no such innovation tonight. Doing the same thing over and over again with the same negative outcome is poor management. The stubbornness of the Leicester boss could end up costing him his job.  

Loyal fans

There has been much talk this season of a lack of atmosphere at the King Power Stadium. What can’t be questioned, however, is the loyalty of those fans who travel to away games. It’s a long way to Plymouth, particularly on a Friday evening and particularly when a hint of good weather brings out the sun-deprived Brits clogging up the roads in a dash to the coast. Despite this, Foxes fans were there in their thousands at Home Park. The money they spend on following their team entitles them to raise concerns about performances. The booing of Leicester players at full time on Friday night was entirely justified.